Late in the night, Karma stared across the dim room at her bags lined up against the wall. She knew nothing would ever be the same. Once she left, it was the end of an era. Her childhood was beyond her grasp forever. Memories and thoughts came like spirits, uninvited to torment her. Branches tapped at her window--or were they branches? Another tap, louder than before came from the glass, and then two more. Someone was throwing rocks at her window. In surprise she wiped her eyes, and went to the window. It was eleven thirty at night and Steven stood under the tree beneath her window.
She tried to quell her excitement as she clicked on the lamp and pushed the window open.
“Hey. Were you sleeping?” He called up with a loud whisper, the lamplight illuminating him gently.
“No . . . trying to. What’re you doing?” Looking at him was heavenly and sad at the same time.
“Michelle took off today . . . she got back late tonight and was crying in her room. Know anything about that?” Steven asked.
“Oh.” Karma looked away for a moment.
“She finally told us--she’s totally bummed” Steven said.
“I know. It’s hard. I’m going to miss her too.” Karma gazed down at him in her oversized T- shirt and messy hair. She was too sad to think about how she must look.
“Everyone’s going to miss you. So, my summer vacation is going to stink,” he said.
“Oh, right, because your little sister’s best friend is leaving” Karma pursed her lips.
Steven grabbed at some low hanging leaves and mindlessly plucked them from the branch.
“Hey . . . you’re my friend, too.” He said.
“What a relief.” It was hard to keep the bitterness out of her voice.
Steven raised his eyebrows. Awkward pause.
“I thought I’d see you after Prom. So I’m a one night stand, huh?” He smiled that smile.
Even now, Karma couldn’t help smiling a little too. “I’ve been busy, as you can imagine. And you had company.”
“Yeah,” he nodded.
“One girl at a time not enough for you? How typical.” Karma folded her arms and shivered slightly.
“Typical?” Steven reared his head back comically.
“Yeah, of men.” She tossed her hair in dramatized contempt.
“Wow. Anyway, I just wanted to come say goodbye.” Steven’s shoulders dropped a bit.
“Goodbye then.” Why was she being rude? She was leaving, there was no point taking it out on him, he had done nothing.
Steven stood in place looking at his shoes. Karma waited for him to tell her goodbye. Steven stepped closer, looking up with concern. “So, you’re feeling bad about that guy, right?”
Who? Karma was confused for a moment. “Daniel?”
“Yeah, that ‘cutest guy in school’ who went skating in barf. He hurt you.” Steven stated it as if it just hit him.
Karma felt something squeeze her heart. She couldn’t answer. Daniel was the furthest person from her mind right now.
“You don’t have to tell me . . . but how bad? I mean, is your mom sending you away because he . . . did something to you?” Steven stammered his face serious.
Karma stared. It was dim, but she thought his cheeks reddened.
“You guys were pretty serious, weren’t you?” Steven looked away.
“Are you asking if we had . . . sex?” Karma blushed.
“It’s not my business-- but I care because you’re like my . . . little sister.” Steven said kicking at the grass.
Karma considered telling him the truth, but, she decided to punish him for hurting her. “Is that why you came tonight? You think I’m being banished?”
“It’s so sudden. I thought you seemed kind of uncomfortable at the dance and Michelle told me you cried for days about him. If I were still a minor I’d beat the snot out of him.” He said the last part, looking down, in a quieter voice.
It was confusing to be flattered and insulted all at once; to care about him, and want him to care back in the same way. But at the same time she wanted to push him away. Was there a need to push him away? He had Christina. No, she had to pull away.
“I appreciate your protectiveness . . . but I don’t want to talk about it. And I’m not your little sister.” Or haven’t you ever noticed, Karma silently grieved.
Steven looked into her window, the light held his face with transparent hands. He blinked a few times, there was nothing to say. He nodded, bit his lip and held one hand up.
“Goodbye, Featherhead. Good luck. Maybe, I’ll see you on the beach someday.” The smile was back and Karma soaked it in aching with affection.
“Bye, Steven . . . thanks.” Karma mustered a smile, all the while her heart felt like it leaked hot liquid. She willed him to stay, to climb the tree and come to her window, to hold her and comfort her the way only he could.
Another bob of his head and Steven backed up several steps. Karma thought she saw a wet gleam in his eyes as he turned away. He moved toward the gray house down the street, he seemed to carry away her childhood with him as he went. Would she ever look out this window toward the Benders’ house, again? He didn’t look back, and Karma watched until the dark shadows of a moonless night absorbed him. She flooded her pillow with tears before finally falling asleep.
Healthy, happy, and empowered mama...with a black belt in taekwondo.
I grew up in a big family in the Bay Area of California, attended college at BYU London, England and stateside. Then married my filmmaker/artist husband and have three sons who also love the arts. Creativity abounds in this house!
I'm a proud member of Writers Cubed and Co-Founder of the super cool and successful Teen Author Boot Camp. When I'm not doing my own writing I keep busy being Jr. Agent at Gateway Literary.
Life is good. (=